NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – As Northampton prepares to welcome 51 Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi refugees to the city in January, one of the biggest challenges is finding housing.
Landlords, building managers, and anyone with living space met at Northampton City Hall, Monday night, to find places for these refugees to stay. No specific locations were formalized in Monday’s meeting, but many proposed apartments.
“It’s not like we need a lot, but we need something in place where we know where we can go, and who we can work with,” said Kathryn Buckley-Brawner of Catholic Charities of Springfield.
6 community groups have volunteered to temporarily house refugees for up to 2 weeks. The state legally requires refugees to be in permanent housing after that time.
The goal is to have these refugees on low-or-rent-free living for at least a year. The average rent in the city is $1,200 for a one bedroom apartment, and $1,500 for a two bedroom. Catholic Charities of Springfield said, in addition to a one-time stipend for $1,125, they’ll cover the first three months of rent. However, they told 22News last week they’re counting on the generosity of their community.
David Axelrad of Easthampton said, “To give a few months to people at least is part of our job as a culture, and to help people who are escaping a difficult situation to make a better life.”
After the first 3 months, these refugees could be paying for their own rent, but that struggle also comes with finding a job and learning English. Refugees will be working with the Franklin Hampshire Career Center as soon as they come to America to help them find work.
The first wave of refugees will arrive in Northampton starting January 1st.
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